General Course Descriptions for Terms: directed
This course studies state and local government law in the United States. Although much of legal discourse focuses on the national government, it is in fact state and local governments that influence much of our day to day lives. Moreover, state and local government decision-making will play a prominent role in many of your legal careers. And state and local government law is at the center of some of the most significant theoretical and normative questions in American law, including those regarding democracy, federalism, and distributive justice. The course will include study of the allocation of authority within and between state and local governments. This will include analysis of the three branches of state government and separation of powers questions arising among them, as well as analysis of how local governments are structured, financed, and organized. We will also study how state and local governments interact, covering doctrines of home rule and intrastate preemption. Throughout, we will ask whether and how current doctrines and policies implicate democracy, efficiency, and distributive justice. In addition, we will explore how these various doctrines and ideas play out in the context of contemporary disputes, including over housing, education, and civil rights. This course will involve the completion of two short response papers during the semester and a final take-home exam. Students who are interested in undertaking a final paper (or satisfying their upper-level writing requirement) on a topic related to state and local government law may, space permitting, enroll for separate directed research credit through the State Democracy Research Initiative (SDRI). Please contact SDRI's Legal Research Director Allie Boldt for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.